Tesla critic Missy Cummings no longer an expert witness in Autopilot case

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Staunch Tesla critic Missy Cummings will no longer be serving as an expert witness in a lawsuit against the electric vehicle maker. The lawsuit involves a case of a Model 3 driver who passed away when the all-electric sedan crashed into a semi-trailer truck in Florida back in 2019. 

Court filings have revealed that Cummings was taken off the case following her appointment as a senior safety adviser for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in October. As per a Bloomberg report, Cummings would be replaced by Ella Atkins, an expert in autonomous aerospace systems and a professor at the University of Michigan. 

The lawsuit in question was filed by the family of the ill-fated Model 3’s driver, Jeremy Banner. Cummings was expected to testify about the role that the driver-assist technology might have played in the tragic incident. 

With Cummings now out of the case, Banner’s family has asked the judge to delay a trial set for January 25. This would allow for more time to depose the new expert on whether Tesla was indeed liable for the Model 3 driver’s death. The family’s request was formally filed on Tuesday. 

Missy Cummings’ appointment as a senior safety adviser for the NHTSA caught flak among Tesla supporters over her alleged conflict of interest and biases against the company, which was exhibited in her now-deleted Twitter profile. Over the years, Cummings has called Teslas “killer robots,” joked that she may punch Elon Musk in the face, and — following Tesla’s decision to remove radar from its vehicles — noted that “There’s no vision research out there which doesn’t think that’s crazy and is gonna kill someone.”

More importantly, however, Cummings also held a post at Veoneer, a Swedish LIDAR company, which cites Tesla as a competitor. SEC filings even indicated that Cummings had received restricted stock units in Veoneer worth about $400,000 a year. She did eventually leave her post at Veoneer, but EV advocates remained wary about her inherent bias against competing technologies, or at least companies that she publicly bashed when her Twitter profile was still active. 

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Tesla critic Missy Cummings no longer an expert witness in Autopilot case
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